Newswise — Washington, DC- Last October the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the quality of undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at state college and university systems and private and public consortia. Today CUR is announcing those selected to participate in the first round of workshops. After a highly competitive selection process CUR is proud to announce that California State University System, the University of Wisconsin State System, and the Council on Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) are the first of six awardees that have been chosen to participate. Nancy Hensel, executive officer of CUR, said "we see this as an opportunity to enhance the academic experience for thousands of students and we know undergraduate research can also lead to innovation, discovery, and economic development and job creation."
All of the awardees will work to build and enhance a culture that supports undergraduate research at the institutional and system/consortium level. The workshops will assist participants in articulating goals for institutionalizing undergraduate research, as well as developing strategies to achieve these goals on each campus. Mitch Malachowski, professor of chemistry at the University of San Diego and co-principal investigator on the grant stated, “undergraduate research is one of the most powerful educational experiences students can have. It helps move them from studying a subject to becoming an active participant. This grant will allow us to display to institutions the wonders of undergraduate research and strategies – and to overcome the challenges. Our goal is to support campuses that are committed to achieving more active forms of learning.” During the workshop participants will also be developing an integrated approach for initiating and sustaining faculty-student collaborative or mentored undergraduate research across the system/ consortium.
Ephraim P. Smith, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, California State University notes the large scale impact the participation of the CSU team members will have on the system, “as the largest public baccalaureate degree-granting system in the country, CSU is committed to educating more students to enter careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. We know that undergraduate research is a proven strategy to increase student retention, graduation, and success, and can be particularly effective for groups underrepresented in STEM. That makes our selection for the prestigious CUR workshop opportunity an exciting development for us.” Rebecca Martin, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at University of Wisconsin System has expressed how excited the team from Wisconsin is to get started and stated “the CUR workshop is an excellent opportunity to further the work that we are doing across the University of Wisconsin System to institutionalize undergraduate research. There is a steadfast commitment on the part of the UW System leadership to facilitate and sustain undergraduate research for two very intentional reasons: it is a high impact practice for achieving excellence in education and a high impact practice to revitalize regional and state economies.”
William Spellman, Director of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges acknowledges the considerable impact the workshop will have on COPLAC, “the Workshop Program will allow over ninety faculty members at twenty-three member campuses of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges to strengthen collaborative efforts in the high-impact practice of undergraduate research. This workshop will have a long-term impact on the public liberal arts sector across the U.S.” CUR will be announcing a second call for submissions in the near future to select the remaining three slots. ##Council on Undergraduate Research: The Council on Undergraduate Research (www.cur.org) supports faculty development for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. Nearly 600 institutions and over 5500 individuals belong to CUR. CUR believes that the best way to capture student interest and create enthusiasm for a discipline is through research in close collaboration with faculty members.
The California State University System will have nine teams participate in the workshop program during the fall of 2011. The workshop will emphasize connecting the ongoing undergraduate research activities across campuses within the system, developing robust databases to track the retention rates of undergraduate research students, identifying a curriculum model that provides undergraduate research access to all students, and building undergraduate research opportunities into faculty workload. Elizabeth L. Ambos, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Initiatives and Partnerships; Judy Botelho, Director for the Center for Community Engagement; Cynthia Desrochers, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Teaching and Learning; and Ken O’Donnell, Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Policy are the system-wide administrators who will collaborate in overseeing the project.
The University of Wisconsin State System will have thirteen teams participate in the workshop program during the fall of 2011. Rebecca Martin, DPA, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin System will serve as the lead system administrator, accompanied by Kristine Andrews, Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations at the University of Wisconsin System, and Jeremy Miner, Director of Grants and Contracts, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The UW System has many robust undergraduate research programs. The focus of the workshop program will be on developing and sharing best practices throughout the UW System and focusing on undergraduate research to serve as an economic engine within the state.
The Council on Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) will be overseen by system administrator William Spellman, Ph. D., Director of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. COPLAC will have 24 teams from colleges across the country participating during a summer 2011 workshop that will target the development of models for undergraduate research that work best in an environment where faculty focus heavily on student learning and outcomes.